Responsibility claimed by 'written in blood' splinter group led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, he was AQIM southern commander until recently, he left Mali to set up his own group last month. This incident was well planned. The brit that died was the security manager. I'll let you guess his background.
Situation still up in the air. Press has changed stories several times already, but it's not a good day out.
Possibly because the workers taken hostage aren't Arabs. They're Algerian Maghrebi. Not work-shy, either IME.
My wife had a contract with JGI Engineering to go to Algeria in late 1993. She'd just received her visa when the whole thing got cancelled as the GIA insurgency (more like wholesale massacre of their own people) got underway.
It is my understanding that AQIM is essentially the GIA rebranded. Very, very nasty people.
Local sources here (all public domain) have the hostages and terrorists held in two accommodation blocks on the base. Earlier this morning, it seems that the terrorists attempted to leave, taking the hostages with them, but gave up when they were fired on by Algerian army. A couple of Japanese hostages are reported injured in this exchange. In the last half hour, around 30 Algerian hostages that were not released yesterday made a break for it and seem to have got free. Meanwhile the terrorists have threatened to execute a hostage (some reports say British) if the army tries anything aggressive. The Algerian government has indicated that it may allow the terrorists to leave the base and, presumably, Algeria, without the hostages, but (my opinion here) it seems unlikely that the terrorists will go for that as it would destroy their credibility amongst other groups of their kind. Ansar Dine (in Mali) has blamed the French for the situation while streessing that it has no connection with Belmokhtar's group and condemns its action etc.